A Frondly Challenge!  Banish the moth balls from your brain. Guess the biological identity of this macrophoto.

A Frondly Challenge!  Banish the moth balls from your brain. Guess the biological identity of this macrophoto.

Clever Clue: The most sensitive chemical detector known in biology, the object in this image can selectively sniff one molecule in a cubic meter of air.


How to Play: If you’re sure you know what this is, don’t give the game away. Instead, contribute some scientific tidbit of information on the topic. Have fun, be creative, the loonier the better 😉


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90 Responses to A Frondly Challenge!  Banish the moth balls from your brain. Guess the biological identity of this macrophoto.

  1. Rajini Rao says:

    Wild guesses are encouraged, Mz Maau 🙂

  2. Rajini Rao says:

    OK, here’s a titillating clue: the owner of this object has sex on his mind 😀

  3. Steve Llano says:

    I was drawn to the answer as if it were a flame

  4. DaFreak says:

    If I am correct then this little guy’s name is quite literally the bomb which is pretty friggin awesome considering that it’s fluffy hat is being “reverse engineered” to sniff out bombs.

  5. Rajini Rao says:

    Haha, awesome, Steve Llano ! Fact is, you could have detected your soul mate if she was 11 km away!

  6. This is quite a pheromenal question. 

  7. Rajini Rao says:

     ♫ Love is in the air ♫ Aria L 🙂

  8. Rajini Rao says:

    Koen De Paus , call me loony but I can’t quite sniff out the moniker (give me a clue…do you refer to the Latin name?). Agree on the reverse engineering..biomimicry?

  9. Mony Obry says:

    No idea, but I like the picture!

  10. Chris Reher says:

    Some sort of moth?

  11. Felix He says:

    As a software engineer i googled for it and i got nothing. lol

  12. Rajini Rao says:

    prabhat parimal , the opposite end of the tail 🙂

  13. Rajini Rao says:

    Channel your google-fu Felix He ! You can sniff it out.

  14. DaFreak says:

    I indeed sense an explosive Latin name but I suspect that others in its larger family might also wear these funny hats so I could very well be wrong. Of one thing I am sure; this is the moth’er of all silly hats. 🙂

  15. Rajini Rao says:

    Rolling on the olfactory floor (ROLF!), Koen De Paus 😀

    prabhat parimal , getting warmer. These feed information to the neurons.

  16. Bob Freeman says:

    Obviously moth antenna (unless I’m wrong, and then they are something else)

  17. Dendrites? …if not, i give up

  18. All this guessing is luna-cy.  The photo triggered my (metaphorical) antennae, and a quick Google search yielded the answer.  I could joke about it, but I’ve been told that my jokes often seem “moth eaten.”

  19. Rajini Rao says:

    A clue just for you, prabhat parimal  ..the creature being discussed is mentioned in the first line of this post 😉 But it’s not so well known that this creature has a terrific sense of smell. The object in the image waves around in the air and detects pheromones.

  20. Sabin Iacob says:

    the problem with these AFAIR was is that they are very specialised (they detect a single type of molecule), as opposed to, say, some fluffy and playful fellow mammalians who have high resolution chemical detectors…

    (edit: language)

  21. Rajini Rao says:

    We do have an olf-ul lot of these detectors, Sabin Iacob 😉

  22. DaFreak says:

    Damn it, I too unleashed my google fu (cheating! :p) and my bomb just werewolved into a tidecontroller. 😦 

  23. Rajini Rao says:

    Robert Woodman , did you hear the pun about the royal family of the Stone dynasty that loved to collect moths? They had to throw them all out because A ruling Stone gathers no moths .

  24. Jun C says:

    Ha! Got it! you guys are clever… Unfortunately, I am not that witty to be able to describe it without giving it away… Very interesting creature!

  25. I didn’t know the word FROND 😦

  26. Rajini Rao says:

    Koen De Paus , you did not quite bomb the answer. These are common to “saturniid, bombycid, and lasiocampid families”.

  27. Rajini Rao says:

    prabhat parimal , frond is like a feather (I was fooling around with “friendly”). Never mind that, but did you find a flying insect in the sentence that followed?

  28. Rajini Rao says:

    The moth-er of all green monsters, Thex Dar 🙂

  29. Chad Haney says:

    Check my stream for how they use their genitals to thwart bat attacks.

  30. Rajini Rao says:

    Whoa, Chad Haney , how did I miss that post? Very cool. Also ties in with my give-away in the first line of this post 😀

     Check out this ballsy move, everyone! http://goo.gl/bxeim

  31. Seems everyone has already narrowed it down to a lepidopteran of some form.  Since the antenna is not clubbed we can rule out butterflies.  It’s white…..I’m going to guess Tiger Moth.  Winning?

  32. Another fun fact about these guys is the adults have no mouths at all, thus cannot eat. Eating just takes away from the more important things in life anyway, like mating 🙂

  33. Rajini Rao says:

    Chris Mallory , how tragically romantic. They live for love 😛

    BiologyCorner , thanks for the distinction from the flutter byes 🙂 You could be right, although, this particular photo has been tagged to one whose color is the same of your profile pic.

  34. Amber Peall says:

    What a manly picture. 😛

  35. I know what it is now!   I won’t spoil it though, as Neil deGrasse Tyson said… “don’t get me started on the moon”   (http://youtu.be/u5-i-I2DUa0)

  36. Azlin Bloor says:

    Robert Byrne was right when he said, “Anybody who believes that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach flunked geography” as these little fellows will attest to!

  37. Rajini Rao says:

    That’s a funny video, BiologyCorner ! I’m glad I didn’t leave you baying at the moon in frustration 😉

  38. Rajini Rao says:

    Azlin Bloor , great quote..flunked biology too, for sure 🙂

  39. Rajini Rao says:

    Just kidding around, Azlin Bloor 🙂

    It does look like a golden leaf, but it’s not Irfan Toheed .

  40. Azlin Bloor says:

    I know you are Rajini Rao! Never fear otherwise! xx 

  41. Rajini Rao says:

    Whew, thanks Azlin Bloor 🙂

  42. Rajini Rao Groan! 😀  Thanks for that!

  43. Its a spider. Or some sort of similar species.

  44. Arnav Kalra says:

    Google fu worked 😀

    It shouts a lot to scare the shit out of bats.

    Dark skies make it more beautiful.

  45. Rajini Rao says:

    Haha, awesome info Arnav Kalra .

  46. Arnav Kalra says:

    Rajini Rao also, dark skies help it by preventing it from getting eaten.

  47. Rajini Rao says:

    Haha, really? #googlefail  

  48. Sandi D says:

    why are the antenna’s that gold colour, maybe to attract their mate?

  49. Rajini Rao says:

    You could be right, Sandi D . This is the brightly colored Luna Moth. According to Wiki: “Nocturnal moths on the other hand are usually plain brown, grey, white or black and often with obscuring patterns of zigzags or swirls which help camouflage them from predators as they rest during the day. However, many day-flying moths are brightly coloured, particularly if they are toxic. These diurnal species evolved to locate their mates visually and not primarily by pheromone as their drab nocturnal cousins.”

  50. Sandi D says:

    some insects use their antenna’s to communicate and to know wind direction , do moths?

  51. Sandi D says:

    bit like butterflies?

  52. Rajini Rao says:

    Yes, that’s right..butterflies can also display bright colors to warn off predators. Monarch butterflies are toxic and the Viceroy mimics the Monarch coloring.

  53. Sandi D says:

    There nice to watch as their soo graceful. I’m going to look that up!

  54. Sandi D says:

    pretty colour!

  55. Something to consider, the compounds that insects use as pheromones are esters of fatty acids, usually methyl esters. 

    Methyl esters of fatty acids are what is used to make biodiesel.  You take waste fat, and turn it into methyl esters.  If some of the fatty acids in the waste fat are the same as in the insect pheromones, then biodiesel will be a gigantic attractant of those insects. 

    Some insect consumers (parasitic wasps for example) also use these same pheromones to home in on insects.  Some plants generate these compounds to attract insect predators when the plants are being eaten by insects. 

    Biodiesel might have adverse environmental effects through disrupting signaling by insects.

  56. Rajini Rao says:

    Food for thought, David Whitlock . We don’t want another bee disaster on our conscience. I do like the japanese beetle pheromone traps, though 🙂

  57. Rajini Rao says:

    Good shot, Paul Bosley 🙂

  58. Rajini Rao says:

    Legolas could not have aimed better 🙂

  59. Rajini Rao says:

    Liz Krane , oh yes..the image of a colorful swarm hovering over the remains of giants is quite stunning!

  60. Rajini Rao says:

    Paul Bosley , do me a favor. Run to your Netflix account or local Blockbuster store and rent all three episodes of LOTR right now. Extended versions, of course 😉

    Actually, I thought Peter Jackson’s Hobbit was a great let down after the trilogy.

  61. Rajini Rao says:

    Paul Bosley 🙂 🙂

    You will then be pleased to know that I once posted a picture of Richard Armitage in a thinly veiled discussion of beauty and symmetry 😉 https://plus.google.com/u/0/+RajiniRao/posts/XRzdH4rR5y4

  62. Rajini Rao says:

    Purloin Gandalf’s steed, Shadowfax, and no one will care 😀

  63. Jim Gorycki says:

    Did anyone say the male vaporer moth?  To quote Will Smith “those joints can pick up cable”

  64. Is it some sort of moth? Mabey a Luna Moth

  65. The Antennaes of a moth at least

  66. what a fun post.  Thanks Rajini Rao.  Coming late to the game — everyone knows what it is by now — but what the hey and FWIW, I’d have used this clue:  “The owners of these highly sensitive olfactory sensors have a ‘radio hour’ named after them on NPR”  🙂 

  67. Rajini Rao says:

    I’d forgotten about that radio show, what a clever hint John Christopher ! If you take a science/nature photograph that I can share here, do let me know 🙂

  68. Rajini Rao says:

    Always good to see Thorin on my G+ stream, Paul Bosley 🙂

  69. Thanks Rajini Rao I’ll keep that in mind… Meanwhile… I take it some subjects are off the table (?) (e.g.  http://goo.gl/vngcM )

  70. Rajini Rao says:

    LOL, we science curators on G+ have our hands full with pseudoscience already, thanks.

  71. Ah, OK, I thought I’d ask since I do hike some of the same woods, and don’t always shave… (How about a picture of a big-foot-in-mouth then?)

  72. Rajini Rao says:

    Haha, I see that creature (Homo footinthemouthus )  in the mirror everyday. My audience here would recognize him/her in an instant 😉

  73. :)) Reminds me of an RV park we stayed at, inside Yellowstone NP a couple of years ago, and there were signs all over “Caution, this is prime bear habitat” (!)  I thought it must be a new species, perhaps a hybrid “Ursus RVparkus Americanus”?  (Apparently some individuals have bright red colored necks)

  74. Keyur Shah says:

    You can tell a male from a female, because males have larger, bushier antennae.

    So this is a male Luna Moth!

  75. Rajini Rao says:

    Indeed, Keyur Shah , thanks for “playing” 🙂

  76. David Bird says:

    That sounds like a lot of fun!

  77. Rajini Rao says:

    David Bird , I’ll have another one coming up soon. Stay tuned 🙂

  78. Keyur Shah says:

    Yup… All Antennae Up for the new one !

  79. Rajini Rao says:

    A new challenge is up, take a guess: http://goo.gl/OoS1wu

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